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Clippers fly past the Suns, 126-101

Team ends three-game losing streak to reach 50 victories for the first time and close in on first Pacific Division title.

April 03, 2013|By Broderick Turner

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For one night at least, the Clippers were able to smile again.

Even if the Clippers ran over a downtrodden Phoenix Suns team, 126-101, Wednesday night at Staples Center, Los Angeles simply needed the good feeling that a win brings.

In the process, the Clippers made franchise history.

BOX SCORE: Clippers 126, Suns 101

They improved to 50-26, the first time in history the Clippers have won 50 games in a season. They broke the old record of 49 wins by the 1974-75 Buffalo Braves.

The win also left the Clippers at the doorstep of another team milestone.

All they need is one more victory or a Golden State Warriors loss to capture the team's first Pacific Division title.

"It was a good team win for us to get us back on track a little [and] to get us No. 50," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said.

With the Clippers the probable division winner, they would be the fourth-seeded team in the Western Conference.

But because they remained 11/2 games behind the fifth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies, who won at Utah on Wednesday night, the Clippers would start the playoffs at Memphis if L.A. has a worse record when the regular season is over.

"Hopefully we can win the division and just keep on moving forward," Del Negro said. "But it's all about improving, staying the course, handling the adversity of the season, the ups and downs."

The only negative Wednesday was a shoving match between Ryan Hollins and the Suns' Goran Dragic with the Clippers leading by 25 points in the fourth quarter. Hollins was given a flagrant foul 2 and ejected.

Otherwise, the game was pretty much a breeze after halftime for the Clippers, who scored the first 15 points of the game and had six players score in double figures.

Their leading scorer was DeAndre Jordan, who had his 11th double-double of the season. Jordan contributed 20 points on 10-for-15 shooting , 12 rebounds and the play of the game.

He grabbed an offensive rebound and threw down a one-handed dunk over the Suns' Jermaine O'Neal with force that brought Jordan's teammates off the bench.

"I thought DJ was solid obviously on the glass," Del Negro said.

Chris Paul also had a double-double (15 points and 12 assists) and Willie Green tied his season high for the third time with 15 points on seven-for-10 shooting.

This win was about more than just about the Clippers breaking a three-game losing streak against a Suns team with the worst record in the West (23-52) and the fourth-worst mark in the NBA.

It was about the Clippers hopefully breaking free of the doldrums that seemed to grip them in recent games.

They shot 55.9% from the field, 42.9% (nine for 21) from three-point range.

They had a season-high 39 assists and only seven turnovers. They also forced the Suns into 19 turnovers.

"We just needed a win," Del Negro said. "We had a couple of tough losses, a couple of poor performances like we've talked about. To get No. 50 here in front of our fans — the first time it's been done — it's great for the organization and the team."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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